A fall tradition: Alpaca goods return to campus

· 3 min read

A fall tradition: Alpaca goods return to campus

Jane Seu (left) and Mario Andrade (right)
Haley Dover | University Communications
UNL Crew Club President Jane Seu (left) and Mario Andrade, a director of the fair trade co-op Manos de Bolivia, arrange items on a table outside the Nebraska Union.

As the leaves begin to turn and the crisp air returns to campus, so does the sale of alpaca goods outside the Nebraska Union.

For nearly 20 years, Mario Andrade, a director of the fair trade co-op Manos de Bolivia – Hands of Bolivia in Spanish – has teamed up with the University of Nebraska Crew Club to sell a colorful array of clothes made from alpaca wool from Bolivia.

Hats, scarves and sweaters line the tables outside of the Nebraska Union for one week every fall and serve as the team’s annual fundraiser. The tables will be set up daily outside of the union this week.

Twenty percent of the proceeds go to the crew team, while 80 percent are given back to the some 3,000 knitters in Bolivia, he said.

“The group here knows that this isn’t just another business, but they are helping the people in Bolivia,” Andrade said. “This isn’t like any other sale outside of the union.”

It has been that way since 1994 when Andrade was first connected with the crew team through a friend. He’s returned to his familiar spot in front of the union every year since.

The sales help the Crew Club with training – after winter training indoors, they’ll head to Austin, Texas, over spring break for some live training. The team competes in regattas across the Midwest.

“We’ll raise (money) for general team funds for training, traveling and competing,” said Jane Seu, Crew president. As the weather gets colder, sales come more frequently, she said. The co-op’s bestseller remains hats and mittens at $14 — just in time for the chilly second half of the Husker football season.

Nebraska isn’t Andrade’s only stop, though it is the school where he stays the longest. Usually, he said, his stops are only two or three days at other schools. The Oregon-based co-op sells at schools along the West Coast, as well as Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. UNL is one of five schools in the Midwest where the alpaca goods are sold, including Kansas State University and Truman State University in Missouri.

“It’s cool that we’ve been working with them for so long and that Mario knows so many of our rowers,” Seu said. “It’s always good to have him here with us to help them out and raise some money.”

Handmade mittens are a top seller during the co-op's stop at UNL.
Haley Dover | University Communications
Handmade mittens are a top seller during the co-op's stop at UNL.

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